Season 11 Innovators

Profile of

Wadah Malaeb

Product
Ductal Organoid-on-a-Chip
Country
Lebanon

About

Time is Wadah’s most valuable resource, so he’s more than comfortable taking risks if it means he’s moving forward. In fact, the young inventor jumped across six majors during his time at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, all before finding his true calling in Biomedical Engineering during his senior year as a Mechanical Engineering student.

Even after an enlightening internship in the oil and gas industry, Wadah’s thirst for knowledge was still left unsatisfied. Eventually, on a whim, he decided to take a course on tissue engineering, as its premise enticed his curiosity.

Wadah had a revelation - his mind would not let him sleep for four straight days after the first lecture, a brief glimpse into the enormous potential of the biomedical field enough to keep his mind racing. He insisted to his professors that this would finally be the field that stuck. It tapped into a childhood dream, where he sought ways to understand the human body better and extend lives - all so he could have more time to satisfy his curiosity of the world around him.

About the Project 

Developing a new medical drug is a monumental undertaking, consuming vast amounts of time and money through countless experiments and trials. According to Wadah, a lot of the cost comes from attempting to replicate real human conditions in which to test the drugs. 

The budding researcher experienced this first-hand while working on a breast cancer project, where he spent six months studying the parameters of human tissue growth. His findings relied heavily on observing the natural behaviour of cells, something which is only possible through a perfect replica of the environment inside the human body. Scarred by the experience, he explored academic literature to see if he could find a new solution.

Enter the Ductal Organoid-on-a-Chip! Based on growing organ chip technology, the Chip provides an environment in which cells can grow and reorganise into tissues as if they were in the human body, providing the perfect atmosphere to conduct drug testing massively, efficiently, and affordably.  

Impact

Wadah’s invention offered realisation for industrial scale production of chips that could help organisations around the world create and offer medicines and vaccines at faster speeds, helping governments protect their citizens from diseases and limit their spread. Organ on chip technologies reduce time that potential life-saving treatments spend in trials by removing the lengthy process of constructing a suitable environment and allowing, at low cost, hundreds of experiments in parallel for running diverse scenarios. More importantly, it can be adapted to simulate differences in human anatomy, vital to guaranteeing that drugs can work for multitudes of people. 

It has great implications for scientists around the world. The invention would save laboratories vast sums of money, time, and human resources, freeing their schedules from the task of simulating environments alone so they can focus on advancing our collective understanding of the human body.